Drunk Shakespeare: The Trendy Way to Stage the Bard’s Plays in the US & the UK

You might be famil­iar with Drunk His­to­ry, the web series turned Com­e­dy Cen­tral show that reen­acts the ram­blings of ine­bri­at­ed hip­sters try­ing to recount events like the Water­gate scan­dal or the Burr-Hamil­ton duel. Well, appar­ent­ly, a grow­ing num­ber of the­ater troupes have decid­ed that the best way to stage Shake­speare in this age of social media and short­en­ing atten­tion spans is to get every­one involved drunk. The audi­ence and the actors. One such group is called, apt­ly, Drunk Shake­speare, which describes itself as “a com­pa­ny of pro­fes­sion­al drinkers with a seri­ous Shake­speare prob­lem.” Each audi­ence mem­ber is giv­en a shot of whiskey at the begin­ning of each per­for­mance. The actors report­ed­ly drink much more and actu­al­ly have to get breath­a­lyzed before the show. You wouldn’t want Hen­ry V to pass out before the Bat­tle of Agin­court, would you? The Wall Street Jour­nal did a short video piece about the group. You can watch it above.

Anoth­er group, the New York Shake­speare Exchange, dis­pens­es with the stage alto­geth­er. Instead, they host a reg­u­lar pub crawl/ the­atri­cal per­for­mance called Shakes­BEER. In one of the many drink­ing estab­lish­ments in New York, actors in con­tem­po­rary dress do scenes from Ham­let and Oth­el­lo amid patrons clutch­ing pints of lager. You can watch some of their shows above.

Anoth­er exam­ple is The Inis Nua Com­pa­ny, which took the basic idea of Drunk His­to­ry and swapped out the his­to­ry with Romeo and Juli­et. Check out below. Or, maybe if you’re across the pond, you will want to check out Sh*t- Faced Shake­speare at the Edin­burgh Fes­ti­val Fringe. It fea­tures “An entire­ly seri­ous Shake­speare play… with an entire­ly shit-faced actor.”

But the real ques­tion is where will all this crazed mix­ing of high cul­ture and mind alter­ing sub­stances end? Will some­one do Ine­bri­at­ed Ibsen? Stoned Chekhov? Moliere on Mol­ly? Trip­ping balls Beck­ett? It’s a slip­pery slope.

via The Wall Street Jour­nal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Shake­speare Cours­es: Primers on the Bard from Oxford, Har­vard, Berke­ley & More

Read All of Shakespeare’s Plays Free Online, Cour­tesy of the Fol­ger Shake­speare Library

What Shake­speare Sound­ed Like to Shake­speare: Recon­struct­ing the Bard’s Orig­i­nal Pro­nun­ci­a­tion

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe The­atre

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing one new draw­ing of a vice pres­i­dent with an octo­pus on his head dai­ly.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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